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Vital Water Graphics 2

Coastal populations and shoreline degradation

Table of contents
Toward a world of thirst?ForewordExecutive summary Water and population

1. State of the world’s water

2. Freshwater resources3. Coastal and marine water4. Water and climate change

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Unsurprisingly, the coastal areas with the greatest population densities are also those with the most shoreline degradation.

The areas surrounding the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and southern Asia have the highest proportion of altered land, while the coastal zones of the Arctic, northeast Pacific, south Pacific, West and Central Africa, East Africa, the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden, and Kuwait have the highest proportions of least modified land.

In order to better manage and protect the oceans and coasts using effective methods such as Integrated Coastal Management, we also need to continuously improve our understanding of the current state of biophysical, social, and economic relationships and formulate sustainable, ecosystem-based policies and measures that are supported by assessments at national, regional and global scales. Also needed is an overview of the global marine environment that encompasses socio-economic considerations and shows the linkages between the state of the marine environment and human well-being.

In response to these needs, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has requested, through Resolution 60/30, that UNEP and UNESCO-IOC co-lead a process which aims to provide a better understanding of the marine assessment landscape to determine the ways in which on-going global, regional and national level assessment work and processes can contribute to the regular assessment and reporting of the state of the marine environment.

Options, a framework and the feasibility of establishing such a process (referred to as a ‘Regular Process’) will be proposed to the United Nations General Assembly, in October 2009. Amongst other aims, it will identify linkages between human impacts on the marine environment, environmental change and human well-being and will explore ways to ensure linkages between regions so that issues of common concern can be tackled in a coordinated way, taking into account best practices and regional strengths and capacities.

A Regular Process would thus provide a holistic picture that will improve informed decision-making of our global commons. See